The territorial government says $33.75 million in federal cash, much of it part of a regular annual funding assignment, will be distributed to support NWT communities’ infrastructure projects.
The Canadian government provides infrastructure funding to NWT communities on an annual basis. This year, the territory received twice as much funding through a one-time top-up of $16.5 million, according to a Monday news release.
The Community-Building Fund, previously named the Gas Tax Fund, will also allow communities to spend the money on fire halls and fire station infrastructure for the first time.
The City of Yellowknife’s fire hall is in need of an upgrade according to a 2020 report. In January, city administrators recommended renovating and expanding the existing facility, a project expected to cost more than $3 million.
The city is set to receive more than $11 million through this year’s Community-Building Fund.
Yellowknife’s mayor, Rebecca Alty, said it’s “too early to say how this funding will be used, but it will support one of our upcoming capital projects that are in need.”
“The next four years we have some pretty big projects, construction projects, that we need to do. And so this means that instead of having to raise taxes X percent, we can use this funding,” said Alty.
“This is one of our favourite federal funding programs because there’s so much flexibility and we really get to complete projects that are necessary in the community.”
The program has previously helped fund improvements to Tuktoyaktuk’s arena and sewage system upgrades in Yellowknife and Fort Smith.
“Communities can use the funds immediately for priority projects, bank them for later use, pool the dollars with other communities for shared infrastructure projects, or use them to finance major infrastructure expenditures,” Monday’s news release stated.
The announcement, and the significant one-time top-up, came with the Liberal minority government widely expected to call an election in the months ahead.